Where Are They Now: Hilary Duff

Erica Witte, Blogger

There was a time in elementary school when I lost my Internet privileges. After spending hours googling Hilary Duff fan sites, I discovered a Hilary Duff hate site. As her most passionate and most devoted fan, I clicked the contact link, sent the creator a message defending the Disney star and encouraged her to take down the site. The next day, my parents received what they described to me as an explicit email from the woman. I think at this point, it was needless to say my obsession had become a bit extreme.

It all began with her first lead role in “Casper Meets Wendy,” which was released in 1998. From then on, she was launched into super-stardom with the premiere of “Lizzie McGuire,” a.k.a. the best show ever to air on Disney Channel. Gordo, Miranda, Kate, Ethan Craft … was there ever a better bunch of characters? I think not. You could imagine my excitement when a relative scored me an autographed photo of Jake Thomas (Matt McGuire, Lizzie’s brother) with a personalized message. It may or may not still be hanging in my room.

Duff also starred in “Cadet Kelly” alongside Christy Carlson Romano (Ren from “Even Stevens”). The Disney Channel movie was the most viewed in the station’s history and for good reason. “Uh, uh! No, yes!” And you can’t forget about her singing talents. I’ve probably raved about this album way too much, but “Santa Claus Lane” is enough to make any Jewish girl cry about her lack of association with Christmas. I’m fairly certain I listened to her first three albums enough in the early 2000s that I still have the lyrics memorized today. Yes, that is embarrassing.

Her teenage years brought about many of her box office classics. “Agent Cody Banks,” “Cheaper by the Dozen” and “A Cinderella Story” were some of her most popular flicks, but “The Lizzie McGuire Movie” will forever go down in history as the best movie ever. OK, that’s an exaggeration, but who doesn’t love “What Dreams Are Made Of”?

As a clever and now typical way to capitalize on fame, Duff launched her first clothing line, “Stuff by Hilary Duff” in 2004. The “stuff” was horrible, but obviously I cleared the Target racks. At the time, my room was basically Hilary Duff themed anyway, so the new wardrobe perfectly matched the gazillion posters, dolls and VHS tapes.

One of her most well-known recent roles was her stint as Olivia Burke on “Gossip Girl” in 2009. Her threesome scene with Dan and Vanessa scarred me for life and prompted the Parents Television Council to urge the episode’s cancellation. If that’s the worst Hilary did, she’s still maintained her reputation as the cleanest and most innocent Disney star. Well done!

As for off-screen relationships, Hilary famously dated Aaron Carter during her Lizzie McGuire years, followed by Joel Madden of Good Charlotte, who was nine years her senior. She also reportedly dated Shia LaBeouf and Frankie Muniz. Quite the interesting group. She finally married Pittsburgh Penguins center Mike Comrie in 2010 and gave birth to son Luca in 2012. Unfortunately, she and Comrie split in January, but they will remain friends and raise Luca together. So boys, if Lizzie McGuire was your childhood crush, she’s now back on the market.

Right now, she’s in the process of shooting a new TV Land pilot called “Younger.” She will co-star with Broadway talent Sutton Foster. “Younger” is produced by Darren Star, creator of “Sex and the City,” so basically, it’s bound to be a winner. I genuinely cannot wait for Hilary Duff to get back in the spotlight, and I’m not just saying that as her No. 1 creepy fan.

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Twitter: @ericawitte